By Maj. Harold Huff III

1st Cavalry Division public affairs

VICTORY BASE COMPLEX, Iraq - Commanders, select staff officers and stability transition team members from the 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, attended the Stability Academy at Camp Victory in Baghdad to study the current situation in Iraq on Feb. 10 to 15.

The academy trains leaders on the importance of understanding Iraqi culture, issues and the current social-political environment. Leaders pass on these lessons to their soldiers who, due to their interaction with Iraqi security forces, ultimately have the greatest impact on improving security and governance which benefits all Iraqi people.

"The training here really helped focus us on the mission at hand," said Maj. Alex Sterea, an stability transition team member.

"Not only does it provide a common operating picture for leaders, the depth of the training was such that we can go back and provide our soldiers with practical and relevant information in theater."

As the mission in Iraq has changed from combat operations to stability operations, the academy was established as a place where leaders expand their knowledge of Iraq and Operation New Dawn. The focus now is on strengthening the Iraqi security forces by advising, training, and assisting them; building Iraq's civil capacity by providing a secure environment; and partnering with the U.S. embassy in Baghdad to enable a successful transition.

Training topics included Army stability operations doctrine, the current political and social framework, information operations, the advise, train and assist model, and an overview of the security agreement and strategic framework agreement both signed in 2008.

The latter documents are agreements between the U.S. and the government of Iraq that provide context for everything U.S. personnel do in Iraq.

Greywolf's leaders conducted multiple advanced cultural training events and Iraqi government classes prior to attending the Stability Academy; which is the culminating training event prior to the brigade assuming their area of responsibility for the next year.

Previous events included the Leader Training Program both at Fort Hood and the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., in August and September 2010, a month-long NTC rotation at Fort Irwin in November 2010, a battle command seminar in December and a Leader Development and Education for Sustained Peace seminar last month at Fort Hood.

Stability Academy cadre consisted of service members and civilian contractors with relevant military experience and expertise. Numerous general officers and special guest speakers came to discuss the impact of this mission.

Most notably, Gen. Lloyd Austin III, commanding general of United States Forces -Iraq, spoke to brigade leaders about the current operating environment in United States Division - South's sector. Special emphasis was placed on the importance of cultivating enduring partnerships, focusing economic development efforts and strengthening the Iraqi security forces.

"You could tell how critical the academy was by the skill level of the facilitators and the emphasis placed on this training by different echelons of United States Forces Iraq command," explained Maj. William Mott, a Stability Transition Team member. "The instructors gave us an over-arching picture of OND and keys to success in planning to support Iraqi security force and government of Iraq capabilities."

Before departing, instructors left leaders in attendance with closing thoughts. They keyed in on the importance of a thorough transition with Iraqi partners and how their accomplishments over the next year will have an exponential effect on the enduring relationship between the United States and Iraq.

With a challenging and unique mission ahead, the leaders of the Greywolf brigade look forward to their roles in shaping the future of a peaceful Iraq through building key relationships today.

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